On to ’09

In order to move on to ’09, let’s recap ’08 first.

There were plenty of opportunities for VuQo throughout 2008. But it seemed there were much more challenges. Internally we had plenty to work on from launching Haliya in the US to making more adjustments in production to dealing with finance and administration issues. We had to deal with changes in personnel and probably the biggest issue was solving the formulation to capture the ever-so-elusive TTB license for VuQo Premium Vodka in the US.

Then there’s all the external factors that challenged us even more, particularly the soaring price of gas over the summer and the global economic meltdown. It made launching Haliya that much more difficult as travel became more expensive and potential accounts scaled back not accepting new products.

But as things got harder all around us … I started to notice something. There were little pockets of positives that started to take place. It started with events which turned into networking opporutinities which led to meeting new people. These people gave us support and pushed our brands out to others. There were tasting events which allowed more and more people to sample our products. This gave us PR and our story started to get out through both our old and new friends in media. These little pockets of positives soon translated into an impressive Q4. Opportunities began to take place from sponsorship of Manny Pacquiao’s After Fight Party, a TV appearance of Haliya with the great Chef Larry in San Diego, and sponsorship with Asia Food Network and ABS-CBN’s Bayanijuan event. We helped ourselves by creating a Holiday program and the result is sales off the shelves of our accounts. In fact, we’re sold out of inventory in the US … at least until the first week of January … and we still have pending orders.

All this because we have a great team, a plan, and support from our friends and family. As President and CEO, it’s great to see our business model starting to work. Yes it’s still small in scale but it shows it works and we plan on making it work on a much larger scale.

Ending 2008 the way we did is such a great momentum builder for 2009 and without saying too much (ahem … US launch of VuQo Premium Vodka!), I’m very much excited for what’s to come. I’m sure we’ll be thrown many more challenges but right now I have this feeling we can overcome them. No I’m not overconfident. It’s just that for almost 4 years now, it seems we’ve been trying to overcome something … great challenges … the kind that toughens you up. Some say 2009 will be worse than 2008. But VuQo will be that silver lining. Not because I think or hope so. It’s because we’re going to make it happen.

Happy New Year!

A Good Review

Last week we got a pretty good review from a wine blogger on Haliya Light Fruit Wines. It made our Director of Marketing really happy because it took her a long time to get some of these wine bloggers to actually review our wines. Why they won’t review our wines well I wrote about that in my last post. I even went as far as telling her we shouldn’t send out anymore samples since it was expensive and we weren’t really getting anywhere. But the persistence paid off and we now have an opinion on the wines (a positive one at that) from a bonafide wine blogger.

I’ve been thinking. These wine bloggers yield a lot of influence on what people think of specific wines. It would be kind of cool if a really influential wine reviewer took a really crappy wine and gave it an excellent review. I wonder how many of his/her followers would blindly agree. Then they go tell their family and friens and so on until the entire world believes that the crappy wine is one of the best in the world. I know … at some point someone just as influential will counter the claim and the same process takes place. So it really doesn’t just come down to taste. It’s a matter of influence. Then again … what isn’t …

Here’s the link to the review … http://biggerthanyourhead.net/2008/08/13/and-now-for-something-completely-different/

The Haliya Revolution

Haliya

I’ve been traveling across California pitching Haliya Light Fruit Wine to both large and small retailers. By all means, I never thought it would be easy. In fact, I knew it would be downright difficult since 99% of the world’s wines are varietal. From the start, we’ve always known our wines wouldn’t … and even shouldn’t … be compared to the great wines from France, Napa Valley, Australia, and so on. With all our research, we knew that fruit wine sales were only a blip in the overall wine market and that we had some work to do. I didn’t realize there was more to why non-varietal wines aren’t successful.

It’s one thing that retail buyers don’t know much about fruit wines. But I have come to find out that fruit wines are frowned upon! Wine enthusiasts are traditionalists. Varietal wines are tradition. Fruit wines are so non-traditional. So much so that I’ve been said to be starting a revolution. In some cases, fruit wines have been frowned upon. We’ve had an email discussion with a wine blogger who throughout his blog has said to continually look for exotic wines from different regions of the world. What he didn’t say was … only varietal wines please. Because when we asked him to review Haliya, he refused because he wasn’t interested in anything not made from grapes. So I responded …

I am curious. I have read many posts on your blog (as well as others) and came to understand that you believe globalization and new techniques are good for the wine industry while maintaining that the making of wine is an art form. In a developing country like the Philippines, the wine industry, whether it be producing it or drinking it, is still very much in its infancy stage. Globalization is one of the reasons why we created our wine while wine as art is the other. If grapes is the canvas of winemaking, we’re already at a loss since hardly any grapes are grown in the Philippines. But like any true artist, we didn’t let that set us back. We found another canvas in the tropical fruits that are grown here, particularly our mangos. We apply the same techniques used in traditional winemaking except our starting point is not grapes.

So my question is … If winemaking is an art form, why are non-grape wines considered non-traditional and even frowned upon when our techniques are very close to being the same? Is it because non-grape wines are too simple? Not sophisticated enough?

We didn’t get a response. Oh well. I’d say 80-90% of consumers like Haliya Light Fruit Wines. About the same percentage of wine influencers (reviewers, bloggers, retail buyers, sommeliers, etc) do not. Personally, I like how our wines taste. Simple, smooth, and refreshing. So I guess we really are starting a revolution. We have a long way to go. We might have to tweak a few things here and there. And definitely no disrespect to varietal wines. They’re the reason we did this.